By Dallas Darling
‘…determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.’ — Preamble of the UN Charter Pledge, 1945
When President Barack Obama announced support regarding a permanent seat for India on the UN Security Council, it reminded me of what Howard Zinn wrote: "The creation of the United Nations during the war was presented to the world as international cooperation to prevent future wars. But the U.N. was dominated by the Western imperial countries-the United States, England, and France-and a new imperial power, with military bases and powerful influence in Eastern Europe-the Soviet Union." (1)
It’s not that India doesn’t deserve a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. What is just as important is the UN’s past, present and future credibility in truly representing the nations of the entire world. In other words, if the UN Security Council would have been established according to Western democratic ideals at the end of World War II, it would have consisted of nations with both greater and lesser populations, along with countries with both greater and lesser military strengths.
Nations in the process of decolonization, such as Palestine, would have prevented future conflicts "which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind." Countries that would someday win independence, like Haiti, would have challenged the self-serving and manipulative veto powers of the permanent members. These smaller and less militant and anti-imperial nations, by possibly preventing the UN Security Council from usurping the powers of the General Assembly, would have helped the UN to fulfill its high purposes to "practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors."
Although the Balfour Declaration and British Mandate for Palestine included a Palestinian State and Jewish national home-based on the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion (2), and even though 91 percent of the population was Muslim and Christian Palestinian Arabs-in 1948, Palestine ceased to exist when the U.S. vetoed a special UN committee granting Palestine independence. (3)
President Harry S. Truman and his Cold War architects viewed a Jewish state as a way to help contain the Soviet Union and dominate Middle Eastern resources and markets. In the 1948 election, Truman gained considerable support from Jewish communities by being the first to recognize Israel on May 14, 1948, the day it declared its existence. Large numbers of Jewish-American voters concentrated in important states also helped Truman win, and they made generous campaign contributions. Some in Truman’s administration supported a Jewish state too and thereby, heavily influenced his and the Security Council’s views. (4)
If Palestine would have been a permanent member of the UN Security Council, succeeding generations might have avoided war. Still, the Minority Report which recommended "an independent federal state" with two autonomous political entities (Arab and Jewish) but united by a central and fairly representative government, might have prevented war. The Majority Report recommending the establishment of two sovereign states, joined in an economic federation, but with Jerusalem having a separate status as an international city under UN administration, might have prevented international conflict too. (5)
As the UN ignored the Palestinian Nakba and Diaspora, and while Palestinians wonder why they were forced to give up their land to save significant numbers of Jewish refugees from the holocaust when the vast areas of Europe and North America were reluctant to share any of the burden (6); when Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president of Haiti in 1991, Haiti should have gained a permanent seat on the Security Council. It is more than likely that protests against UN forces and a cholera epidemic that has infected thousands would not be occurring. Nor would have 250,000 Haitians been killed in an earthquake.
Although the U.S. had trained and armed Haiti’s counter-insurgency forces-covertly channeled through Israel, thus sparing Washington embarrassing questions about supporting brutal governments-Aristide became a charismatic priest with a broad following in the poorest slums of Haiti. (6) Not only did he denounce the military-dominated elections and called on Haitians to reject the entire process, but he declared: "The army is our first enemy." (7) He also denounced hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign military aid and criticized U.S. foreign policy. (8)
Whereas President Bill Clinton honored democracy and the rule of law by helping to restore Aristide after a military coup, President George W. Bush disposed of him. Perhaps it was Aristide’s dream of a living wage and civilized working conditions for the Haitian masses. Or maybe it was Aristide’s condemnation of brutal transnational corporations that dehumanized and practically enslaved Haitians. Was it the ongoing reforms leading to a social security pension system, decent education, housing, and universal health care, or was it Aristide himself who donated his $10,000 a year salary to charity? (9)
In 2004 and after the Bush administration had armed anti-Aristide rebels and fostered a military coup, the U.S. "kidnapped" Aristide and forced him to resign. If Haiti would have been a permanent member of the UN Security Council, another devastating and deadly coup d’etat would not have happened. Even now, no investigation has been completed, let alone started, due to U.S. pressure. Aristide maintains that he was threatened, and that the U.S. staged the military coup to prevent corporate profits from reaching Haitian workers.
Perhaps the "just and sustainable international order" that "includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate," and which "includes India as a permanent member," (as Obama mentioned while in India) entails Palestine and Haiti too. After all, and in regards to the U.S.-led wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other parts of the world, not to mention billion dollar weapons sales and decades of perpetual conflict in the Middle East, how could such a more fair and representative action possibly do more harm?
– Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John’s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.worldnews.com. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: www.beverlydarling.com and wn.com//dallasdarling.
(1) Zinn, Howard. A People’s History Of The United States, 1492-Present. New York, New York: Harper Collins Press, 1995., p. 406.
(2) Congressional Quarterly Press. The Middle East, Ninth Edition. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press., 1987., p. 17.
(3) Ibid., p. 25, 26.
(4) Williams, William Appleman. Americans In A Changing World, A History Of The United States In The Twentieth Century. New York, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1978., p. 364.
(5) Congressional Quarterly Press. The Middle East, Ninth Edition., p. 26.
(6) Young, John W. and John Kent. International Relations Since 1945, A Global History. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2004., p. 114.
(7) Blum, William. Killing Hope, U.S. Military And C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2004., p. 370, 371.
(8) Ibid., p. 372.
(9) Ibid., p. 382.